This is discussion about Indigenous Permaculture.
Justin! What an awesome entry! Excellent use of media to explain your entry. "With a student success rate of over 95%, the Indigenous Permaculture program gathered interest from CBC radio and television and the Edmonton Journal"-AWESOME!!!!
I love this idea because it promotes community and nothing is more important right now than sustainability and indigenous knowledge is key to that. How difficult was setting up the project? What were the original goals and objectives? Is the project easy to duplicate in other geographic areas? Is it similar to a community garden? Thanks Justin for an incredible entry!
Glad that you like it, Shawna! Thank you for the kind comment; we're pretty excited about the project, as well!
Origin of the Program:
I had been working at Jasper Place for almost a year when we decided to create the Indigenous Permaculture program; I am a Science/Math teacher in addition to having my permaculture design certificate and had already started the food-forest with a student club. Through that work, I had make friends with an Aboriginal consultant who thought that there might be a fit with the Aboriginal Studies curriculum. So what we ended up doing was teaching the Ab. Studies curriculum through the application of permaculture. ex. the curriculum emphasizes the use of oral traditions in indigenous cultures so we would research out plants (talk to elders, etc) and find stories and legends about them; moving in the opposite direction we found examples of indigenous stories that backed up permaculture principals.
This was the first time that any school in Edmonton Public had taught the Aboriginal Studies curriculum and we wanted to approach it in a way that didn't make it look and feel like a social studies classroom; it was about interacting with the environment and honouring the traditions, beliefs, values, and worldviews that have allowed indigenous cultures to live with nature in a mutually beneficial way; this has also lead to some interesting discussions about how these traditional ways of looking/interacting with the Earth can and should be applied in a 21st century context.
From the beginning it was important for us to make the class very multicultural so not all of out students were of FNMI heritage; we thought that this was important and one of the things that out Indigenous students were saying is that they wanted to share their culture with the rest of the student body. Another reason why having a diverse group of students was a conscious decision was that ecology teachers us that there is strength in diversity.
Where it's Going:
In terms of duplication, I would recommend that the class be taught by a teacher who also has a permaculture design certificate. We are in the process of working out some details with the City of Edmonton and another school in Edmonton Public about doing another Indigenous Permaculture class as part of the redevelopment of our municipal city centre airport. Recently, a decision to shut down the airport has been passed and an architectural firm is converting the space into a 'green' city within the city; we (The Jasper Place High School Permaculture Program) has been asked to start the development of food-forests in what will be called 'Agrihoods'.
Description of a Food-Forest:
In terms of the food-forest itself, it looks, well.... like a forest. It in primarily perennial in nature (contains over 80 species of edible perennial plants) and designed to harvest/store all of its own water, carbon, and nutrients. Instead of pesticides and herbicides, the garden builds and relays on biodiversity to maintain a balance; ie. you don't have an aphid problem, you have a ladybug deficiency. What's even better is that like a natural forest, it comes back on its own every Spring.
Indigenous Permaculture! Could anything be more fitting! Please send me more information on this program! My email is email@example.com. I am a Metis woman living in the BC Kootenays and besides my Ashoka (and Masters) project Healing and Community Development project, I am also sitting on Sustainable Golden group (see on FB). We have a young Permaculturist in this group as well. There is such an interesting movement happening these days! I finally feel the values and philosophy that I was raised with fits in with society. Or what I think is that society has finally caught up with us!
Thank you Denise! It's always great to get positive feedback! It sounds like you're pretty busy lady!
It has been really interesting and enlightening teaching the Aboriginal Studies curriculum through permaculture; it doesn't take long before you start seeing the common themes and patterns between indigenous ways of knowing the world and the principals found in permaculture (really, the patterns found in nature). In many ways, it's unfortunate that society has had to catch up to realize the richness and truth in indigenous knowledge but I am certainly glad that it's happening.
We've been trying to document the program and have written some blog posts around it (in addition to coverage from the local media). Here's a link to all of our blog posts that have an Indigenous Permaculture tag:
Continue with your amazing work!
That's fantastic Justin!
Make sure you update your idea as new thoughts come to you and feel free to check out other entries and comment. A new entry was just posted by Johnny Hawke I think you'd like. Congrats on a great entry Justin!
The new JP Permaculture website is up and running; highlighting some of the various activities that we've been doing over the course of the last two years:
Currently, the permaculture club and I have been working on setting up an aquaponics system in the school Culinary Classroom; aquaponics = raising fish and vegetables together in a way that the fish waste feeds the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish! Here are a few posts about what we're doing:
Why We Received a Fish Culturing Licence: http://permacultureschool.ca/?p=637
Setting Up Our Aquaponics System: http://permacultureschool.ca/?p=632
Also, we've been covered in the media:
A video of a presentation that I did at Edmonton's city hall as part of their 'The Way We Green' speaker series.
In my talk I set up some permaculture theory and argue for an ecological model of education; can ecology/permaculture approach help restructure the education system & develop more resilient learners?
Your entry mentions that you’ve had a 95% student success rate. Could you provide more information about how you define success in that statistic?